Preach Magazine Issue 1 - Creativity and innovation in preaching - Page 19

INTERVIEW can indeed engage the cynic effectively. Again, the church provides a kind of ‘captive audience’, and preachers understandably focus on feeding the sheep in the fold, rather than attracting new ones. A clergy friend of mine tells me of the enormous difference in the way people treat him when he wears a collar. They don’t tend to initiate conversation, they feel awkward around him, and some even try to avoid him in light of all the clergy scandals they’ve heard about. Of course, a new breed of seeker churches has a different approach, with varying degrees of success. In my country, such churches usually meet in buildings that don’t look like churches, emphasise entertainment through music and drama, and direct some services with an uncommitted audience in mind. By doing so, however, they rely on the same style as pilgrims, activists, and artists. They tend to present truth indirectly, rather than directly, which often is the most powerful way. After all, the vast majority of the Bible expresses itself in the form of story and poetry, not propositions. JS You are very concerned with faith making a visible difference. Can a preacher’s words have power if their life doesn’t mirror what they teach? My first instinct is to answer ‘No’, because I think of Christian leaders who are involved in scandalous situations and the negative impact that follows in their wake. However, I have often seen God ‘overrule’ a preacher’s failures by using the words to reach people despite the speaker’s personal flaws. I’ve experienced that myself. I’ve left a hotel room torn up over a very tense family situation, delivered what I felt was a flat and perfunctory sermon, only to find it had a deep effect on someone in the congregation or aud